Last Updated on January 27, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD
It is no secret that sunflower seeds are high in protein, but did you know they also have a low glycemic index? That means people with diabetes can eat them without worrying about their blood sugar levels. This article will give you 7 tips on eating sunflower seeds for diabetes patients.
Are sunflower seeds effective for controlling diabetes?
Yes, sunflower seeds are very nutritious and beneficial for people with diabetes. They are rich in minerals like magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron (omega 6), and selenium, which help control high blood pressure- the leading cause of mortality among people with diabetes.
They are also rich in dietary fiber, omega-six fatty acids, which are very good for the heart, and antioxidant compounds like vitamin E, which help lower LDL cholesterol levels- high cholesterol is a common feature of type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, the Glycemic Index of sunflower seed is only 20, and being low on the Glycemic Index means that it does not cause a rise in blood sugar levels. According to nutrition experts, sunflower seeds are very healthy for diabetes, and they can be included in your diet regularly while cooking food.
What are the benefits of eating sunflower seeds for diabetics?
Benefit 1 – Sunflower Seeds are rich in vitamin E
Vitamin E is a very good antioxidant that helps to lower bad cholesterol levels and improves blood circulation. This is especially beneficial for people with diabetes because high levels of bad cholesterol are a common feature of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, Vitamin E also helps to protect the body from heart diseases.
Benefit 2 – Sunflower Seeds help control blood glucose levels
Sunflower seeds are low on Glycemic Index, which means that they do not cause a rise in Blood sugar levels after being ingested. Snacking on sunflower seeds between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels low.
Benefit 3 – Sunflower Seeds are rich in magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral for people with diabetes because it regulates heart function and reduces high blood pressure. Magnesium also helps the body produce energy, which is very important due to the insulin resistance feature of type 2 diabetes.
Benefit 4 – Sunflower Seeds are rich in monounsaturated fats
Monounsaturated fatty acids help to control diabetes because they keep insulin levels stable. This is very important for diabetics because high insulin levels cause the body to store more excess glucose as fat, which leads to obesity and can contribute to type 2 diabetes. Additionally, monounsaturated fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce the risk of kidney disease and nerve damage.
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Benefit 5 – Sunflower Seeds are rich in antioxidants
Sunflower seeds contain a compound called phytosterol, which helps as an antioxidant, lowers LDL cholesterol levels, and increases good HDL cholesterol levels. This is very beneficial for people with diabetes because high LDL cholesterol levels and low HDL levels are common features among type 2 diabetic patients.
Benefit 6 – Sunflower Seeds help to maintain weight and control obesity
Snacking on sunflower seeds between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, and it also reduces hunger which prevents snacking between the main meals. Additionally, eating one fistful of sunflower seeds as a snack has only 150 calories which help in weight loss.
Benefit 7 – Sunflower Seeds are rich in selenium
Selenium is a mineral that plays an important role in combating heart diseases and cancer. People with type 2 diabetes have twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those without diabetes. Selenium is also very important because it lowers the risk of bladder cancer, esophageal cancer, and colorectal cancer.
Benefit 8 – Sunflower Seeds are good for the heart
Sunflower seeds are rich in omega 6 fatty acids, which help reduce cholesterol levels and improve blood circulation by reducing blood clotting. Additionally, they contain high dietary fiber, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, strokes, etc.
Sunflower seeds are best eaten raw and unsalted and should be stored in a cool, dry place for maximum freshness. They can be added to different types of salads or eaten as they are.
9 Tips for eating sunflower seeds for diabetes patients
- Keep it Cool – Heat causes the proteins to break down and get chemically altered, making them more difficult to digest. So keep your seed stash in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to eat them!
- Don’t Eat Them Alone – Sunflower seeds are often served as a snack food alongside other foods like crackers, cheese cubes, or celery sticks because of their high-calorie density. For example, if you were to grab a few seeds and eat them independently, you could easily consume 100 calories in just 10 minutes.
- Don’t Eat Too Many – Eating too many can cause gastric discomfort and make it difficult for your body to process the fat and protein from the seeds, which may lead to severe bloating. Limit sunflower seed intake to one fistful a day to keep calorie intake under 150 calories
- Sunflower Seeds should be eaten raw and unsalted to avoid adding excess salt or sugar
- The skin of the sunflower seeds is rich in fiber, so eat them together with the skin to avoid constipation
- Ensure that you chew the seeds properly before swallowing because they are difficult to digest if not chewed properly
- Include sunflower seeds in your diet daily, but avoid over-indulgence as it may lead to obesity
- Snack on sunflower seeds between the main meals to lower glucose levels after eating
- Add sunflower seeds to cereal, salads, and yogurt, etc. to increase the availability of sunflower seeds in your daily diet regimen
Do sunflower seeds spike insulin?
No, sunflower seeds contain the minerals magnesium, manganese, and copper, which work together to prevent insulin spikes after eating high in carbs.
Is it safe to eat sunflower seeds while pregnant?
Sunflower seeds contain copper, which is required for iron synthesis in the fetus. They are also rich in magnesium, which helps combat morning sickness, thus improving the overall health of expectant mothers.
Sunflower seeds are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins B1, B6, and E, which provide energy to the body, especially during pregnancy. This is because pregnant women have increased energy needs met by eating sunflower seeds. However, eating too many can cause gastrointestinal problems, so ensure that you take them in moderation.
Is it OK to eat sunflower seeds every day?
Sunflower seeds are a healthy snack that can be eaten every day. However, too much of anything is bad for health. If you want to eat them every day, ensure that you take them in moderation and stick to one fistful daily to avoid obesity.
How many sunflower seeds should you eat per day?
The amount of sunflower seeds that should be eaten per day depends on your calorie needs. Eating one fistful a day gives you 150 calories which are not even 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake for men and women.
Besides, eating too many sunflower seeds every day can lead to obesity if it is not countered with a healthy diet and exercise.
What happens when you eat too many sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds are healthy, but eating too much of them will harm your health. When you eat a lot of sunflower seeds, you may become overweight, which is connected to low-level inflammation and cardiovascular disease, and it also causes bloating and stomach discomfort.
What is the best time of the day to eat sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds can be eaten at any time of the day, and they can be included in your breakfast, lunch, or dinner diet regimen, but avoid eating them an hour before bedtime because they are high in calories.
Which seeds and nuts are the best for diabetics?
Sunflower seeds are the most recommended seeds for diabetics. Other recommended seeds include
- Sesame seeds:These seeds contain a high copper, manganese, and calcium concentration. Their health benefits in diabetes include blood sugar regulation and reduced risk of heart disease.
- Pumpkin seeds: these contain a lot of magnesium, which helps reduce blood pressure, thus preventing diabetes complications such as cardiovascular diseases. They also reduce insulin resistance and improve metabolic function.
- Flax seeds: these contain high amounts of antioxidants, fiber, and alpha-linoleic acid, which helps to maintain glucose tolerance. They are highly recommended for diabetics.
- Almonds: contain magnesium, potassium, and vitamin E, which regulate blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by regulating cholesterol levels. They also improve insulin function by improving cellular uptake. They also contain unsaturated fats, which lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Chia seeds: These seeds contain a high amount of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, which reduce blood pressure and also regulate the function of insulin, thus reducing the risk for diabetes.
- Walnuts: they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants which help to lower cardiovascular risk. They also help reduce blood sugar levels by 10% and improve insulin function.
- Pecan nuts contain antioxidants and high amounts of vitamin E, which help lower blood sugar levels.
- Macadamia Nuts contain selenium, which helps regulate blood vessel function, improve metabolic function, and prevent diabetes complications. They also have high levels of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that reduces inflammation in the body, thus protecting against coronary diseases.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals, which can help with blood sugar management. And they’re delicious! If you or someone you know is living with diabetes, try incorporating sunflower seeds into your diet to see if it helps control the condition. We hope this blog post has helped provide information on how eating sunflowers may provide relief from some of the symptoms related to diabetes – but don’t take our word for it. Try them out yourself and share what benefits have been observed within our diabetic community! Have a favorite nut? Please share in the comments below to learn more about different healthy snacks that people enjoy!